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Northern Ireland pro-Remain parties agree pact for ‘extraordinary election’ | Politics News



Pro-Remain parties have struck an election pact to help oust the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from several seats in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein will stand aside and urged voters to back the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in South Belfast and Alliance Party in East Belfast on Thursday 12 December.

The republicans are also putting themselves in the highly unusual position of urging people to back pro-unionist independent Lady Sylvia Hermon by fielding no candidate against her in North Down.

The Brexit election
Sky News will be covering the election results live on 12 December

In return, the SDLP is promising to stand aside in three seats – North and East Belfast and North Down – to boost other Remain supporting politicians’ chances of winning against the pro-Brexit DUP.

That will help the SDLP’s chances of ousting Nigel Dodds – deputy leader of the current Conservative government’s confidence and supply partner.

“This is a once-in-a-generation election, the stakes are very high in this election,” explained Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.

“The reality is we are asking people to come out and vote for those pro-Remain candidates. We believe that is the right and progressive thing to do.”

She added: “It sits very comfortably with me to ask and invite voters to thoughtfully do the right thing.

“And in this case it means defying hard Brexiteers, the likes of Nigel Dodds, the likes of the DUP candidates who have very, very recklessly acted against the interests of everybody.

“Whether you call yourself a unionist or a nationalist, a republican or a loyalist, we actually have many, many interests in common.”

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds is the DUP’s deputy leader

The SDLP is also facing claims of hypocrisy for deciding not to field a candidate in North Belfast for the first time in the party’s history.

It has fiercely criticised Sinn Fein previously for its MPs refusing to take their seats in Westminster because they have to swear an oath to the Queen.

Former SDLP councilor Mairia Cahill resigned from the party in protest at the move, accusing the party of facilitating a “sectarian headcount”.

A party spokesperson said it had taken an “extraordinary decision” for an “extraordinary election”.

At the weekend the DUP announced it would continue its recent policy of not contesting Fermanagh and South Tyrone – a move that will help an Ulster Unionist candidate unseat Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew.

The cross-community Alliance Party has made clear it has no role in the electoral manoeuvres and will not engage in any pacts.

The Brexit Election: For the fastest results service and in-depth analysis watch Sky News live from 10pm on Thursday 12 December, with a [email protected] election special on Friday 13 December

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